I love when I can find a way to bring two of my favorite but very different crafts into one. Today I am sharing a way I found to bring ribbon embroidery into papercrafting. This post is long with tons of images, so warm up your scrolling finger and get ready!
Ribbon embroidery is done by doing embroidery stitches with soft ribbon. Most often, silk ribbons of varied widths are used to create delicate and dimensional designs. Silk ribbon embroidery is not as popular as other types of embroidery so finding ribbons can be difficult. To make this concept a little more accessible to what a paper crafter might have on hand, I designed this tutorial using seam binding, which is very popular in papercrafting right now and easy to locate. For papercrafting, I prefer to keep white seam binding on hand because it is easily colored with ink products. (If you were to use the flower I am showing on a garment or washable item, you would need to color your ribbon with colorfast dyes.)
To color my ribbon, I apply ink (in this case Worn Lipstick Distress Stain) to my ribbon on a craft sheet (shown above). I like to leave white areas so that as the color moves and blends (with the help of water) it will have variations in the final color.
You can apply different colors to deepen and change the main color. (Old Paper Distress Stain is used here with the Worn Lipstick.) As you tap them onto the wet ribbon they will blend and move.
After you have applied color, blot the excess moisture with a dry cloth.
Run the ribbon between your fingers to smooth out any wrinkles. We want smooth ribbon for this, no wrinkles or crinkles. Dry the ribbon with a heat tool. If you have extra ribbon left over that you would like crinkled, simply mist it with water, wrinkle it, and let it dry.
In addition to the color combo shown above, the flowers on my finished tag are made from two other combos. This soft pink is a combination of Spun Sugar, Tattered Rose, and Victorian Velvet Distress Stains.
The yellow ribbon is a combination of Scattered Straw, Wild Honey, and Old Paper.
For ribbon embroidery, you generally use a large eyed tapestry or embroidery needle. I try to get one with the eye as close to the same width as my ribbon if possible. The needle I used happens to be the needle that came with one of my Bazzill InStitchz Thread sets. If you have that needle, you are all set!
Start with a length of ribbon about 12″ long. Trim the end of your ribbon so that it has a clean, slightly angled end. Thread the ribbon through the eye of the needle.
Pull the ribbon through the eye until you can pierce the tip through the end of the ribbon (the end you threaded through the eye).
Pull the tail end of the ribbon tight so that it pulls the stitch back to the eye. This locks the ribbon in place on the needle and keeps it secure to stitch with.
Generally, ribbon embroidery is done on fabric. Silk ribbon is very pliable and works through most fabrics fairly easily. Because the seam binding is wider than most silk ribbons, you will have to use a fabric that has a looser weave that will allow for the wider material to move through the fabric. I chose crinoline. If you follow me, you know I love crinoline, it has tons of great craft uses. If you can’t find crinoline at your local fabric store, you could also use buckram, which is similar but a bit stiffer. Both are used a lot for shaping in special occasion garments so it is generally stocked near wedding fabrics. (I do have some crinoline “fat quarters” that I will be adding to my Etsy shop for anyone who can’t find it online or locally.)
The finished flower will be cut out from the fabric so using either crinoline and buckram for this flower will create a nice, non-fraying base.
I like to draw a circle on my fabric with pencil to help me place my stitches. I also find it helpful to divide my circle into pie slices for the number of petals I plan to stitch. You can skip this if you want to just eyeball it. The circle can be any size you like. The one shown here is about the size of a dime.
The first stitch begins on the back of the fabric bringing the needle and ribbon to the top side. Place it so that the needle is in the first section, just inside the circle. Keep in mind, the ribbon is thick so you may need to wiggle it a bit to pull it through. The locked stitch at the eye is the thickest part, so once you get it through, the rest will pull through easily.
Stop the pulling the ribbon when you have about a 1/2″ tail on the backside.
Lay the ribbon above the circle. Place your finger on the ribbon to hold it flat and in place. Drape the ribbon over the top of your finger so that it is straight all the way to the needle.
Pierce the needle down throught the fabric just shy of the center point of the circle.
Continue to hold the loop in place with your left hand as you pull with your right. Holding it will help keep it straight and keep it from pulling through.
Stop pulling and holding once you have the loop the size you want it to be.
Move to the next section of your circle and repeat the same steps to make another petal.
As you make new stitches, make sure on the backside that your needle is only stitching through fabric and not ribbon. The thickness of the seam binding makes it very difficult to stitch through previous stitches.
Continue working your way around the circle. After you get multiple petals, you may find it helpful to hold the previous petals with your thumb and ring finger while using your index finger to create your flat loop. Sometimes as you pull the ribbon on new stitches you can pull previous stitches. Holding them helps prevent them from pulling and keeps them out of your way as your flower fills in.
After your final stitch, run the tip of the needle under one of the previous stitches on the backside of the fabric. Trying to secure the end by stitching through the ribbon of a previous stitch will be difficult and will most likely damage the original stitch on the front side.
Pull the ribbon gently until it is at the end.
Cut the excess ribbon and needle away.
Working with the fabric petal side up, fold the petals away from the outer circle, holding them down with your thumb. Cut the fabric around the flower, just outside of the circle.
After the flower is cut out, trim the tail of the first stitch close to the surface.
If you would like to add a bit of age to your flower, you can tap the surface of it with Distress Ink using an ink blending tool.
Finish the flower with a brad in the center.
Flatten the brad on the back of the flower. Adhere the flower to your project using either the brad or by gluing it in place with Zot.
To add an extra touch, I added a Tim Holtz Idea-ology Washer behind my brad. I love changing these up a bit by using needle nose pliers to bend and crimp the edges of them.
For my finished tag, I stamped a background using Hero Arts Classic Fabric Design Stamp with pastel Adirondack Pigment Inks. I swiped over the surface of the inked tag with Picket Fence Distress Stain for a super soft effect. I brushed the edges with Brushed Corduroy Distress Ink. Finally, I misted the surface with Biscotti Perfect Pearls Mist.
I stamped stems and leaves (Fiskars Petals From Scratch) and a sentiment (Fiskars Friendship Garden) with Olive and Jet Black Archival Inks. I colored in my leaves with an Adirondack Meadow Pigment Pen.